As I mentioned in the last blog post, I took a 3-week social media break while I was finishing writing book two in The Ones Who Got Away series. I didn't post except a little on my personal FB, and I didn't scroll through my feeds on FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Part of that was inspired by kidlet and his screen-free summer, the other part was just practical. I needed to minimize as many distractions as possible so I could focus for long hours and stay immersed in my story.
So, one of the habits this fast disrupted was my habit of getting on my phone and scrolling through my feeds, mentions, and messages first thing in the morning. I've read enough habit books to know that a good strategy in breaking a bad habit is to replace the unwanted behavior with a positive behavior instead--habit replacement.
I decided that what I really wanted in the morning was quiet and to ease into my day, a calm mind, so that when I sat down to write, I wasn't scatterbrained with today's news, who said what, cat videos, all my To Dos, and whatever else I may have come across on my phone. So I decided that in the morning, I would read in bed for about 20 minutes before everyone else woke up.
Next question was, what to read? I didn't want to read whatever book I was currently in the middle of, mainly because I'd find it hard to put down an immersive story. Plus, I was so buried in writing fiction that I didn't want to read a novel. I wanted to read short things and something that was reserved only for that morning time. Something I could feel like I finished instead of left in the middle.
So, I found a few contenders: a writing memoir with essays, a short story collection, and a book with small passages about famous artists and their daily rituals. These are the three books that ended up on my nightstand.
I tackled Still Writing first and it was amazing. I'll do a full post on it another day, but it was the perfect selection for me. Short, beautiful essays about the writing life that just made me sigh and think and ponder. It ended up being a centered and gentle way to start the day, almost like meditation. I loved every minute.
I didn't miss the phone. I didn't miss the noise and pictures and constantly swiping screens of information. My lamp was on, the sun was coming up, the other people in my house were soundly sleeping (or my husband was already up and working), and it was just me and lovely words and the start of the day.
I am a complete convert of this new ritual. Even now that I've turned in my book, I have no desire to go back to the obsessive smartphone scrolling first thing in the morning. What exactly am I expecting to be there? What is so important that I need to look at it first thing and then spend the rest of my free time on it? Nothing, is the answer. Email. FB. Twitter. News. Chat. All of that can wait. The day will be noisy enough later. But for those first few minutes, the day is all mine.
Some other ways to replace the habit if reading in the morning isn't your cuppa:
- Having a quiet cup of coffee or tea and just letting your thoughts go wherever they want with no distraction. (That's where the creativity lives--it doesn't show up unless we give it empty, non-distracted space.)
- Take a walk outside or sit outside
So, anyone else have a morning ritual that makes them feel great before they start their day? Anyone getting tired of reaching for their smartphone first and then getting lost in the noise?